I visited Lynda Shepherd, owner of the magical little travelling cafe Myrtle & Mae – Travelling Refreshment at her house in Lobethal overlooking the farm of the iconic SA Tweedvale Milk, which is so close she could walk to pick up her milk. She took me out to her vintage 1950’s styled caravan for a tour and of course, coffee.
As Lynda poured me a cup of coffee, she asked if I would like sugar. When I responded “no”, she jokingly replied that she was going to judge me if I said yes. Cheekily, I said, “I only take sugar if the coffee isn’t good, so we will see.” After my first sip, I was convinced she had been trained well and was using great coffee beans.
We got to talking about this truly unique and charming caravan; a reproduction vintage 1950’s van, with its beautiful wooden bench-tops, paneled windows and the functional yet stylish bi-fold doors. The creator of this little beauty, Shane from Woody Caravans, ensured everything was made in an authentic 1950’s style. Lynda could barely contain her praise for Shane, who even went so far as to beg the grandson of the contractor who originally made the trademark scooped windows for the 1950’s vans in Australia, to make the windows for Myrtle. Shane absolutely loves his work and names every caravan he makes. He gave Lynda’s van the name Myrtle after his Grandma. Lynda wanted to keep the name the van was christened with, but also stamp her own mark on it, and so added Mae to the name, after her grandmother.
Myrtle & Mae is the amalgamation of Lynda’s love of Food, Coffee, Events, Vintage, and Markets. Lynda has a great appreciation of old things and their story, “its history and beauty”, which permeates through every decision she makes. Like Ron Burgundy, Lynda also wants to “keep it classy”. She’s not just a coffee van, it’s much more than that. It is a travelling cafe in which “people should feel like they’re getting special treatment when they visit”. Lynda wants people to be able to take pride in Myrtle & Mae. “It’s not just a quick coffee, it’s about care and it’s about service”.
Lynda has a commitment to Myrtle being ethical, local & sustainable. That means the coffee beans, tea, and everything for sale will follow these guidelines. Organic food isn’t as much of a priority but more often than not it goes hand in hand. When questioned on this, Lynda explains that many smaller local business can’t afford to get and maintain the certification, and supporting local businesses is paramount to Lynda’s philosophy.
Lynda has such an obvious flair and passion for what she does, it made me wonder what her background was. Lynda is a trained nurse, after studying nursing for three years and practicing as a nurse for 18 months she realised that it really wasn’t for her and had, as she explains, a “mid 20’s crisis” which lead to her deciding to follow her true passion in life. She decided to buy a caravan and start her own business, and she was off.
Besides nursing, Lynda also worked for a catering company that predominately catered weddings, for places like Bird in Hand and Longview Winery. For a time, she was the hostess at Sticky Rice Cooking School, and has also cooked for Ruby’s Cafe, where she later managed the front of house team. All of which has set Lynda up to make Myrtle & Mae a success.
During this time, Lynda’s husband was literally off being a rockstar. It’s now Lynda’s turn to be creative and have her turn in the spotlight. With the help of some very encouraging and supportive friends and family, Myrtle & Mae was born.
While undoubtedly a talented cook, Lynda chooses to cook some of the goodies herself, and to source the remainder locally. “The philosophy behind Myrtle & Mae is based around using local produce and supporting local family businesses”. One of Lynda’s concerns is that SA produce doesn’t get the attention it deserves. “I want to profile the great SA produce, it’s something I’m very passionate about”. Lynda tracked down some of the best that South Australia has to offer which includes Rustic Gourmet, The Coffee Barun, Scullery Made, and Tweedvale.
Myrtle & Mae can be found at specialty markets, designer expos, and pop up events around Adelaide or you can book her for private functions and weddings. Myrtle has become a very popular addition to have at weddings because of her unique 1950’s look and vintage style. You can hire Myrtle & Mae simply as a coffee and drinks bar, or add canapés, or even to manage the “Big Day” so that the bride and groom can enjoy themselves.
A smart and down to earth business woman, Lynda’s passion for life and what she does is infectious, and makes you want to follow your dreams, or in the very least, follow around her delightful Myrtle. You can keep up to date with all things Myrtle on her Facebook page.